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Rudy Project Defender ImpactX Photochromic 2 Black



Very impressive photochromatic glasses, quick to change and offering strong protection

At every product is thoroughly tested for as long as it takes to get a proper insight into how well it works. Our reviewers are experienced cyclists that we trust to be objective. While we strive to ensure that opinions expressed are backed up by facts, reviews are by their nature an informed opinion, not a definitive verdict. We don't intentionally try to break anything (except locks) but we do try to look for weak points in any design. The overall score is not just an average of the other scores: it reflects both a product's function and value – with value determined by how a product compares with items of similar spec, quality, and price.

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The Rudy Project Defenders are an impressive pair of glasses, with the photochromic lens especially impressive in changeable conditions. They provide great protection, but the price will put some off.

  • Pros: Comfortable, lightweight, impressive photochromic lens
  • Cons: Expensive

One of the challenges I always find during the spring/early summer is that when you start off on a ride it can be dark and dank, but by the time you're halfway round it's bright sunshine. You can take off arm warmers and remove gloves, but your glasses are another story as you are left with two options – ride with your eyes streaming or get blinded.

> Buy these online here

Photochromic lenses have become increasingly popular in recent years, but can suffer by being slow to change. With the Rudy Project Defenders, changes happen rapidly enough that you don't instantly feel plunged into darkness, but equally don't leave you feeling like you're staring directly at the sun.

They go from essentially non-prescription clear lenses to dark black, and adjust to every light between, meaning you can always maintain a clear view of what's on the road in front of you. They also have impressive clarity and strong peripheral vision, despite being full frame glasses.

Rudy Project Defender ImpactX Photochromic 2 Black - front

In addition to allowing you to see effectively in all conditions, the glasses also offer strong impact protection. I know this from a stone that flicked up and left no mark on the lens (unfortunately it did on my forehead). Given that 30 per cent of the reason for wearing glasses is this kind of protection, it's a sign of a good pair of glasses. For those curious about the other 70 per cent: in the Hill household at least, 30 per cent is UV protection and 40 per cent is to look cool.

Rudy Project makes a version of the Defender frame in graphene, for £259, which it claims is 'lighter than carbon but stiffer than diamond'. The glasses on test are the grilamid version not graphene, but are certainly robust despite the relatively thin frame.

They sit on the head well thanks to grippy arms and buffers on the nose, meaning that even on particularly sweaty rides I found they stayed exactly where they should. The glasses also provide effective defence against misting thanks to the Powerflow Ventilation System, which consists of 12 vents that sit within the frame and two that sit between the frame and the lens. The only time I ever found them steaming up was when I was stopped at traffic lights, and even then they cleared very quickly once I got going again.

Rudy Project Defender ImpactX Photochromic 2 Black - worn

In additional to protection and comfort the glasses are also fairly lightweight, coming in on the Scales of Truth at 34g. This is slightly heavier than some at a similar price, such as the 100% Speedcraft SL glasses, which are 32g and £13 cheaper. The Smith Attack Sunglasses are 4g lighter but £3 more expensive. However, when you're talking in single figures you wouldn't really notice much of a difference.

> Buyer's Guide: 22 of the best cycling sunglasses

The one thing there's no getting around is the price: at £191.99 rrp they're expensive. However, there is no doubt that these these are top-of-the-line cycling glasses, up there with the best I have used.

Rudy Project Defender ImpactX Photochromic 2 Black - case

Overall I really liked these glasses. I have used several photochromic glasses in the past and these are easily the best. Many will baulk at the price, but there is no doubt about their quality.


Very impressive photochromic glasses, quick to change and offering strong protection test report

Make and model: Rudy Project Defender ImpactX Photochromic 2 Black

Size tested: One Size

Tell us what the product is for and who it's aimed at. What do the manufacturers say about it? How does that compare to your own feelings about it?

A pair of high-quality performance glasses designed to be used in all conditions whilst also offering strong impact protection.

Rudy Project says: 'Inspired from more than 30 years of Rudy Project heritage, the Defender blends an innate racing attitude with the most advanced eyewear technology to provide unparalleled comfort to athletes and weekend warriors. Adjustable nosepad and temple-tips, ultra-deep field of vision, protective soft Safety Bumpers and extraordinary Power Flow ventilation System make the Defender extremely comfortable and safe.'

Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the product?

From Rudy Project:

Total Comfort Fit


Power Flow

Interchangeable Bumper

Adjustable Nosepiece

Adjustable Temple

Rate the product for quality of construction:

Very well made; when you first see the frame its slenderness gives the impression that it could be flimsy, but it's stiff and resilient.

Rate the product for performance:

Does exactly what you want a pair of glasses to do – offering protection from light and anything thrown up from the road.

Rate the product for durability:

Very durable. I don't know how well they would fare after being run over, but I would put my money on them surviving most other abuse.

Rate the product for weight (if applicable)

Ever so slightly heavier than some of their closest rivals, but when it's down to single digits it's nothing too major.

Rate the product for comfort (if applicable)

Adjustable nose buffers and grippy arms mean they stay in place well and don't chafe.

Rate the product for value:

They're expensive, but they are high quality; on a par with others.

Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose

Very well, they kept my eyes free from harm whether it came from the sun or debris being thrown up.

Tell us what you particularly liked about the product

The lens is particularly impressive, offering not only great photochromic performance, but also strong protection and visual clarity.

Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product

There is no getting around the price, which is going to put some people off.

How does the price compare to that of similar products in the market, including ones recently tested on

The 100% Speedcraft SL glasses are 2g lighter and £13 cheaper. The Smith Attack Sunglasses are 4g lighter but £3 more expensive. However, when you're talking about single figure grams you wouldn't really notice much of a difference.

Did you enjoy using the product? Yes

Would you consider buying the product? Yes (if they're in a sale).

Would you recommend the product to a friend? Yes

Use this box to explain your overall score

An impressive pair of glasses that offer protection from all the elements and can be used regardless of the conditions. You're paying for quality, but it is a lot of money.

Overall rating: 8/10

About the tester

Age: 29  Height: 6 ft  Weight:

I usually ride: Cinelli Gazzetta  My best bike is: Cannondale Supersix Evo

I've been riding for: Under 5 years  I ride: Every day  I would class myself as: Expert

I regularly do the following types of riding: commuting, club rides, sportives, general fitness riding, fixed/singlespeed, mountain biking

George is the host of the podcast and has been writing for since 2014. He has reviewed everything from a saddle with a shark fin through to a set of glasses with a HUD and everything in between. 

Although, ironically, spending more time writing and talking about cycling than on the bike nowadays, he still manages to do a couple of decent rides every week on his ever changing number of bikes.

Add new comment


Welsh boy | 5 years ago

What on earth is “strong peripheral vision”?

Come on, please stop with the verbal rubbish and review a cycling product in proper language and terms, this isn’t a GCSE creative writing exam. 

LastBoyScout | 5 years ago

I've used their Rydon glasses for a few years, firstly with the original ImpactX photochromic lenses and, more recently, with the 2nd gen version.

I have to say I haven't noticed much improvement the speed of change of the lens - it's still not that great when you go from daylight into, say, a tunnel, as I did at the weekend.

They are pretty good for scratch resistance, but, after a couple of years of use, they do have a few light marks on them, although the worst is from when I trod on them by accident.

Russell Orgazoid | 5 years ago

Get safety glasses from work or screwfix for 10 quid.

It won't matter when you drop them!

rtw replied to Russell Orgazoid | 5 years ago
Plasterer's Radio wrote:

Get safety glasses from work or screwfix for 10 quid.

It won't matter when you drop them!

Gosh, what's for dinner in your house every evening? Porridge made with water. Main thing is that it fills you up, eh?

Russell Orgazoid replied to rtw | 5 years ago
rtw wrote:
Plasterer's Radio wrote:

Get safety glasses from work or screwfix for 10 quid.

It won't matter when you drop them!

Gosh, what's for dinner in your house every evening? Porridge made with water. Main thing is that it fills you up, eh?

Nothing the matter with porridge!

Glasses like these are the Emperor's new clothes. 

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